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Setting SMART Goals to Improve Your Health

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Making lifestyle changes to improve our health is vital to our overall wellness. When it comes to setting goals, it’s important to be specific. SMART goals are a great way to establish a starting point as well as give you direction towards reaching that goal and a way to measure your progress. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound.

SPECIFIC: An example of a specific goal may be ”drink 8 glasses of water a day“ as opposed to “drink more water.” It defines the new healthy habit in a specific way. It will help you to incorporate the method into the goal and not just the expected outcome.

MEASURABLE: A goal should be able to be measurable. A possible goal could be to exercise 45 minutes a day five days a week or losing a pound a week for 12 weeks. Keeping track of progress in a journal or a fitness app or tracker can give you a way to know how far you have progressed. If you are able to see how far you have come it may motivate you more to continue the journey. It may also help you to see if you need to adjust your goals as you work towards your objectives.

ATTAINABLE: In order to reach your goal it must be something that can be realistically achieved. Setting an unattainable goal, such as losing 10 pounds in a week, is unhealthy and very difficult to achieve. It sets you up for failure. A goal should be challenging and allow you to take smaller actions that are realistic to be able to achieve it.

RELEVANT: The goal you set should have personal meaning. If your goal is to increase your physical activity, choose something that you enjoy such as swimming or hiking. You want to be inspired enough by the goal you set that it will give you the motivation to follow through with it. Achieve the goal for yourself-not for anyone else.

TIME BOUND: When establishing a goal, you want to give yourself a realistic time frame. It should be specific and not to far in the future. For example, "I want to exercise more this year" is a general and vague statement. Instead, a better way to think of your goal would be "I will walk 30 minutes each morning before work 5 times a week for 10 weeks". It establishes a time period that you can use to evaluate your progress.

Taking the time to set SMART goals will set the framework for you to achieve your goals by giving you the criteria to measure your progress. Focus on the process of achieving the goals instead of just the outcome and allow yourself to make adjustments if needed. Breaking down the larger goals into smaller parts will make it easier to track your progress. Write your goals down so you can reference and review them periodically and share them with others so they can help keep you motivated along the way.

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